Thanking our public safety personnel

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 27, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

In Sunday’s edition of the paper, there was a letter of commendation written by one of the most decent people I’ve ever known; Police Chief William A. Freeman.

In his letter, the chief heaped praise upon local citizens, pointing out how they, as much as professional law enforcement, had helped prevent the looting and mayhem that generally takes place when cities suffer through events like Hurricane Isabel.

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Freeman was working with the Special Investigations Unit of Suffolk Police in 1990, when I first met him. I quickly learned that &uot;cops&uot; do have hearts. As a green reporter, I did not know the first thing about interviewing an undercover police officer. I asked questions that he could not answer because it would have hampered future undercover drug investigations. Rather than kick a nosy reporter out of the investigations division, Freeman explained to me that certain information could jeopardize the men in his unit in the performance of their duties. That’s the way the chief was; considerate of citizens (even the nosy ones) as well as his officers.

It is obvious from his letter that his consideration of others has deepened over the years. His appreciation for his fellow man is obvious, but as I read and typed the letter I wondered if the general public has even an inkling of his great concern for their safety and quality of life.

The chief’s letter said he became anxious when the storm blasted its way into the city. We were all anxious. I prayed plenty hard for my family and home and I also offered numerous prayers for one of the greatest teams of co-workers in the state; the men and women at the Suffolk News-Herald.

I am certain that all of you were just as anxious for loved ones you couldn’t reach because of downed phone lines. But, just imagine having an entire city to consider. Freeman takes seriously his role of protector/servant to the people. He believes he’s here by the grace of God. He was genuinely concerned, and I’m certain he prayed for the people he served as well as those who serve with him.

Suffolk Police officers literally rode out the storm in their cruisers; riding slowly, when Isabel would allow even that, looking for people in need of help and as heard over the &uot;scanners,&uot; even helping animals stranded in the storm.

What kind of person leaves the safety of their own home; leaves their family alone in a hurricane, to get behind the wheel of a police car? The words &uot;dedicated servant&uot; truly applies to the individuals who make up the public safety personnel in this city.

Chief Freeman wrote an unprecedented letter to the people of Suffolk. How many times have we heard of a police chief taking time to thank the people of his city for being law abiding, helpful citizens? Freeman’s letter of appreciation from a public servant is a rarity in today’s political climate.

I applaud Freeman for his thoughtfulness and I praise God for placing such a man in the position of police chief. With Freeman as leader of our law enforcement team, our city can say, &uot;Truly, it is a good time to be in Suffolk.&uot;

Barbara L. Allen is a staff writer for the Suffolk News-Herald. She can be contacted at 934-9617 or